Government and private actors risk losing the huge investments made in rolling out the single window platform at the country’s ports, if attempts to introduce a new player to take over implementation of the programme are not stopped, industry players have said.
Implementation of the Single Window platform is currently being handled by GCNet and West Blue (Customs World), but there are indications government wants to introduce a new handler.
GCNet has a contract with government that runs till 2023 and West Blue has a valid contract with it till 2020 – and if these two companies are made to discontinue their services it could lead to possible cases of judgment debt which could spell doom for the economy, a source told the B&FT.
Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Carlos Ahenkorah, recently made comments suggesting that Ghana Link Network Services, together with its Korean partner CUPIA Korea Customs, has been selected to take over the role of deploying the single window platform under the UNIPASS agreement.
The minister’s key justification was that it is comparatively cheaper.
Available data show that GCNet charges 0.4% of Free Onboard (F.O.B), while Customs World charges 1% of C.I.F (Cost, Insurance and Frieght), bringing the total charges from the two entities to 1.4%, but UNIPASS on the other hand will only be charging 0.75% on F.O.B.
A source told the B&FT that the recent assertion by Mr. Ahenkorah comes as a surprise to industry people, because he is on record as having praised GCNet for its deployment of the Ghana Cargo Clearance Systems, GICCS, describing it as efficient and robust enough to deliver on any valuation needs and address any bottlenecks in the overall clearance systems at the ports to deepen trade facilitation and enhance revenue mobilisation.
Since the issue came up, the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF) – the most critical stakeholder in this arrangement – has vehemently kicked against the new arrangement, asking government to reconsider its decision.
Technical Committee member of GIFF Johnny Mantey said throwing away GCNet’s over-15 years’ experience and West Blue’s three years’ experience, coupled with the huge investment they have made, will be too costly to the state.
“The signs are really good and I do not understand why you are going to throw away this kind of experience from GCNet and West Blue. There is no value in the new arrangement. All we have been told is that the UNIPASS system will be cheaper – which is not true,” he said.
Records available indicate that the GCNet-enabled automation of the GRA-Custom processes between 2002 and 2016 witnessed an increase in revenue collected from GH¢2,492,144,65.42 in 2003 to GH¢13,160,942,845.48 in 2016. On the domestic side, revenue improved since deployment of the Total Revenue Integrated Processing Systems – tripsTM – from GH¢3bn in 2012 to GH¢15.7bn in 2017.
Additionally, through GCNet’s technical support to the Registrar-General’s Department (RGD), that department recorded some GH¢75m through the e-Registrar portal.